New Releases March 09

Bratty teen no-wave noise-pop band Moron Says What?! won a few fans with their song Wikipedia which I featured on the Computer Games episode of Counting the Beat. They have also built a reputation as an energetic and exciting live act, although they've divided audiences with some declaring them awesome and some just plain annoying. The band have just released an E.P., the Pop Up E.P., which can be ordered through their myspace page. (Live Moron Says What?! clip on the video page)

Another band with a solid live reputation are Clap Clap Riot. They have also just released an E.P. TV Knows Better. It's good without being groundbreaking, with five catchy guitar driven songs influenced by early 80s British post punk indie. The E.P. should appeal to fans of Cut Off Your Hands and Collapsing Cities. Check out the video for 'Don't Want Your baby' on the video page. Also worth viewing is the Clap Clap Riot Red Bull Session.

Head Like A Hole, a band with a fearsome live reputation that I have many fond memories of, are the latest band to jump on the reunion touring bandwagon. However the line-up touring does not include Tom Watson, who joined the band for their third album and added a welcome melodic element to live performances. Watson has been busy though, working on a new album with his laid back county rock outfit Cassette. Their debut E.P. Emo is a classic and the first album Cut For Summer, while not making a big splash, is also excellent. The first song to be released from the upcoming album Jingle King, 'Our Dream' indicates that the new L.P. is another one to look forward to.

I'm a big fan of covers of New Zealand songs by kiwi acts so I was excited when I heard about Loon-A-Tiki, an E.P. of kiwi covers by Labretta Suede and the Motel Six, a 50's influenced full on good time rock and roll band. The band tackle everything from 195os hit Haka Boogie to 80s punk from Sticky Filth. Also well worth checking out is the bands album Not Food Hungry. You can also hear Labretta showcase her favourite music each Friday on bfm. I've put some Labretta Suede videos on the

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New Releases Feb 09

I haven't had a catch up on new releases for a while so here's some new songs and some that aren't so new that I've just caught up with.

First up is a new track from The Verlaines, one of the bands to define the Dunedin Sound. The Verlaines released a number of classic recording between 1981 and 1996, the best known being 'Death and The Maiden' (check the video on the video page). The thing that made The Verlaines so good was that songwriter Graeme Downes had a background in classical music and brought his knowledge of composition into a rock format, resulting in sophisticated and innovative song structures. Downes has since gone on to run the School of Contemporary Music at Otago University. In 2007 the band returned with a well regarded album Pot Boiler. Now Downes has released 'Yangtze Cod and Chips', a taster for forthcoming album Corporate Moronic. As you can tell from the title this is a politically motivated album, Graeme has got fire in his belly. 'Yangtze Cod and Chips' addresses his anger about the free trade agreement signed between China and New Zealand. I recommend checking out a great National Radio interview (stream) where Downes explains his approach to the new L.P., and another National Radio feature on the Contemporary Music Degree (stream).

Christchurch duo Ragamuffin Children have long been a Counting The Beat favourite. Their 2007 debut album Werecat Lullabies earned them a Counting The Beat Alternatui for best female artist. They have just released a second album, The Seahorse Emporium. This time the sound has been fleshed out with a stellar cast of supporting musicians including Lee Prebble (who also engineered the album) and Jess Chambers. The result is an album of gentle acoustic indie folk that reveals more with each listen. 'Tincan' is one of the more immediately captivating songs on the album but the whole album is a rewarding listen and a step up from their debut.

The Mots self-titled album has been described as a power pop gem. This talented band is made up of brothers Jol, Eden and Will Mulholland along with Greg Hillier. They have a strong pedigree with various members having been part of two great bands, Motocade and Gasoline Cowboy. On the album there is classic power pop, Strokes-like indie, songs dusted with a touch of light country, and playful rock a-la Hunky Dory era Bowie. I hope this self released album doesn't get stuck in the underground, it's accessible, full of great songs and a lot of fun.

Finally, you've probably heard some of the debate around the controversial changes proposed in New Zealand's copyright law. It's not a clear cut issue, with artist's rights and natural justice in the balance (for a great backgrounder on the proposed changes check out this interview from Waiheke Radio). At the forefront of the campaign against the most controversial aspects, section 92A, is the Creative Freedom Foundation. As part of the campaign they have commissioned a song from Disasteradio. The song has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License, which means that it is free to download, share, copy, distribute, sell, remix, and sample. You can find out how to participate in the project here. It's a complicated issue but the copyright changes in the form proposed would put things like the Counting The Beat podcast under threat, and I hope I'm managing to do more good for NZ music than harm.

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Lost for Words

Lost for Words features great kiwi instrumentals, songs sans vocals.

The big question is how do you define an instrumental. On the surface it seems quite simple, a piece of music that doesn't feature voice. But the whole electronic / dance music thang muddies the water. Sure it might not feature vocals but is the music made by Pitch Black or Concord Dawn what you think of as an instrumental. (Come to think of it some of that music doesn't even feature instruments, unless you're going to count a laptop.)

If we look back a bit it gets easier. Many early kiwi rock acts in the 1960s aped their overseas counterparts such as theBeatles, Stones etc and some also picked up on huge instrumental acts like The Shadows or the American surf guitar sound of Dick Dale, Link Wray and so on. In New Zealand the biggest instrumental act was Peter Posa, his most famous tune - White Rabbit. He drew on the surf guitar sound but wasn't quite so drenched in reverb and was a mighty fine picker. Peter Posa is the kiwi instrumental master. He is still around playing gospel and in fact he put out an album a couple of years back.

You all know the Ray Columbus and the Invaders hit 'She's A Mod'. What is less well known is that The Invaders recorded several instrumental B sides without Ray. A couple of these can be found on an the Very Best of Kiwi Instrumentals, an interesting budget price CD, you'll pick up Amplifier or The Warehouse.

Three decades later the debut single from Shayne Carter's post Straightjacket Fits band Dimmer was the classic, thrilling instrumental 'Crystalator', a song that exhibits both control and paint stripping ferocity. This is one of my favourite NZ singles of all time.

The podcast closes with HDU's 'Tunguska', first released as a single in 2006 after a lengthy hiatus and then included on last year's excellent Metamatics album. This song was recently described by Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd as his summer anthem. Hardly an accurate description 'Tunguska' is, never-the-less, brilliant. It's a moody and brooding guitar soundscape that invokes the feeling of isolation and menace of Tunguska, the site of a devastating early 20th century meteorite strike in Siberia.

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Music Alliance Project - February

This month sees the third Counting The Beat contribution to an exciting international initiative, the Music Alliance Pact. On a monthly basis music bloggers from around the globe select a track from their own country which is then posted collectively and simultaneously on those blogs - giving each nation's track international exposure. For this month's Counting The Beat contribution to this project we are proud to present 'Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot' by The Enright House. You can download track below, but I recommend you visit for free downloads of the acoustic E.P. featuring that song, a free collaborative remix E.P. and other The Enright House songs and videos.

AMERICA – I Guess I’m Floating

Here We Go Magic – Tunnelvision
Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic is the bedroom folk-pop project of Luke Temple, who is releasing his self-titled debut this year. He has been praised by Sufjan Stevens and Ben Gibbard for his uniquely gorgeous vocals and meticulous lo-fi production aesthetic. Tunnelvision is the first single – one part Shakespearean sonnet and one part circus music, swirling in a beautiful mess of poetic acrobatics.

ARGENTINA – Zonaindie
Pablo Dacal Y La Orquesta De Salón – Ella Ya Está En La Playa
Pablo Dacal is a musician, singer and songwriter from Buenos Aires. His first songs circulated in tapes and between 2000 and 2002 he published a series of EPs that caught the attention of the media. The Orquesta De Salón was founded to collate this loose collection onto his first proper album, 13 Grandes Éxitos (2005). His next record was La Era Del Sonido (2008) and Ella Ya Está En La Playa is one of the finest songs from it.

AUSTRALIA – Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The Crooked Fiddle Band – The Rom Rebellion
More furious fiddling from The Crooked Fiddle Band, who have a new EP called Rise which they are currently touring. I’ve been getting into bands like Balkan Beat Box and while these guys are different, I like the punk element in the songs. It just sounds like it would be a whole lot of fun to watch.

BRAZIL – Meio Desligado
João Brasil – Orgasmadance
Like a tropical version of Girl Talk, João Brasil’s music is a mashup of beats and artists from different styles and backgrounds. With a strong influence of Brazilian funk carioca, a style derived from Miami bass and famous because of its explicit lyrics about sex, João Brasil released his first mashup album last year, Big Forbidden Dance. Orgasmadance is one of the best samples of his work. It starts with pieces from Orgasmatron and Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, before suddenly meeting Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. and other songs from Justin Timberlake, Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, CSS and Michael Jackson.

CANADA – I(Heart)Music
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Four Night Rider
The Rural Alberta Advantage, who are actually from Toronto, with frontman Nils Edenloff's birthplace being Alberta, are one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. They specialize in Neutral Milk Hotel-esque pop with a slight twang and, as Four Night Rider demonstrates, the results are simply, passionately amazing.

CHILE – Super 45
Congelador – Abrigo
For more than 10 years, Congelador have been a cornerstone of the Chilean independent rock scene. After four record releases and two years in a hiatus, the band came back with the Abrigo EP - six songs that gracefully move around post-rock, noise, pop and electronic music.

ENGLAND – The Daily Growl
Let’s Wrestle – Let’s Wrestle
I could continue to bring you songs from London’s fertile folk-pop scene but it’s time for something a bit different. This month we have a singalong theme song from the self-professed ‘most miserable and hateful band in London'.

GERMANY – Blogpartei
Bratze – Jean Claude
Bratze is a Hamburg-based duo consisting of Der Tante Renate and ClickClickDecker. They make beautifully simple electroclash and indietronic music accompanied by sophisticated lyrics, all mixed with a DIY mindset. The featured song, Jean Claude, was their breakthrough as a newcomer in 2006.

ICELAND – I Love Icelandic Music
Hjaltalín – Goodbye July/Margt Ad Ugga
Hjaltalín is a nine-piece collective, so almost an orchestra, which uses an eclectic selection of instruments, from bassoon to bass, accordion to clarinet. With these instruments and two singers they create a wall of sound for their folky indie-pop songs. This song features the beautiful voice of singer Högni Egilsson, a catchy chorus, broken up with an Icelandic hymn sung by Sigga Thorlacius.

IRELAND – Nialler9
Tenaka – Alaskan
Tenaka is Ronan Carroll, a one-man band who creates melodic and sinewy slices of electronic pop from his bedroom but which suggest an imagination far beyond the physical. Alaskan is the soundtrack to dipping your toes into a lake before dive-bombing into its sunshine-infested yet chilly waters. The song features on EPonymously Titled, a free EP available from his MySpace. No excuses, download it now.

ITALY – Polaroid
Wax Anatomical Models – Recollections Of Our Times
Wax Anatomical Models may just have formed but they already have plenty of skills. Their sound mixes post-punk, hardcore, shoegaze and electronic influences, but the results in their first demo stand on a different level. Emotional and driving, they are a band to keep an eye on.

MEXICO – Club Fonograma
Natalia Lafourcade – Azul
The expectancy for Natalia Lafourcade’s upcoming album Hu Hu Hu is building up quick, her redefined lyricism and instrumental complexity showing true signs of an potential masterwork. She’s naturally cute and affecting, and previous material indicated talent, but her sharp new musical vision has finally reached widescreen. Azul is ornamentally sublime. In Mexico, it’s rare to find such a beautiful delicacy.

NEW ZEALAND – Counting The Beat
The Enright House – Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot
The Enright House is the musical project of Mark Roberts from Christchurch. Despite being predominantly a solo affair, his 2007 album A Maze And Amazement was filled with songs that had a real sense of grandeur. Some of these have recently been re-released in acoustic form on the Six Acoustic Renditions EP and, as demonstrated in Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot, they lose none of their epic qualities in the translation. Enright House - Scattering The Sun Like Gunshot (Acoustic).mp3

NORWAY – Eardrums
Richard Holmsen – Great Speed
Richard Holmsen is the singer of the band Delaware but his main focus these days seems to be his solo project. His music is fragile and simple, with few elements other than his guitar and tender vocals. This is quite the opposite of Delaware’s grand, melancholic indie-rock sound. In recent years Holmsen has also made music for film and been involved in an electronica project called Sea. Great Speed is a Music Alliance Pact exclusive, written and recorded only a week ago.

Catervas – Covida
After 10 years in the local scene, Catervas – formed by brothers Pedro, Raul and Javier Reyes – swapped their previous shoegaze sound for melodic rock on 2008 album Hoy Más Que Ayer. With its optimistic, convincing pop songs, Hoy Más Que Ayer is pure passion made into music. Covida is the second single from it and easily the band’s best song to date.

PORTUGAL – Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
PressPlay – Play Hot (extended mix)
PressPlay are Playgirl and Lisa (aka The Party Queen). Playgirl does vocals and guitars, while Lisa does vocals and electronica. Their influences are PJ Harvey, Peaches, Electrocute, Cobra Killer and Miss Kittin but they sound much better than some of their heroes – and they’re definitely cuter. The extended version of Play Hot, which is the debut single for their upcoming debut album, was mixed by Woman In Panic, who is actually a guy called Pedro Lourenço.

ROMANIA – Babylon Noise
The Amsterdams – Suffering And Surfing
The Amsterdams are a post-punk, indie power-pop band based in Bucharest. Inspired by the famous Dutch city, their name symbolises the freedom of spirit in every sense. Suffering And Surfing is featured on their forthcoming album, a blend of reckless vocals with freewheeling, volatile riffs and rhythms.

SCOTLAND – The Pop Cop
Broken Records – Nearly Home
Edinburgh seven-piece Broken Records have just signed to renowned label 4AD, the just reward for over two years of personal sacrifice and preaching to the soon-to-be converted with their relentless touring schedule. Devoted followers like myself have already amassed as many as 18 of Broken Records’ epic, swooning, orchestral songs in one form or another – enough to predict that their debut album, scheduled for release this summer, will probably be 2009’s best.

SINGAPORE – I’m Waking Up To...
Nuance – Fear Strikes Mankind I
Nuance is a four-piece rock band, with a recently self-released eponymous EP. At the heart of the record is the two-part epic Fear Strikes Mankind, an ambitious and intense journey that invokes the rock sensibilities of 90s Radiohead and contemporary post-rock experimentation. In the first part of the song (provided here), the biblical narrative of Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his son, Isaac, is related through the perspectives of both father and son. It’s a troubling journey, but the band does well to face the challenges head-on, both existentially and emotionally.

Seokjune – Dok
Seokjune released his first EP, Dok, at the start of 2009. Equipped with an acoustic guitar and a voice that conjures Elliott Smith, he performs one delicate tune after another while singing in Korean or English.

SPAIN – El Blog De La Nadadora
Nouvelle Cuisine – La Comunicación No Verbal
Nouvelle Cuisine are a band with a French name but Spanish nationality. They come from Galicia and have self-produced their new album, De Memoria, which is reminiscent of indie bands in the 90s. They develop their essence in personal lyrics and the soft melodies of their songs.

SWEDEN – Swedesplease
Love Lindblom – Till Min Syster
I’m a real sucker for catchy music like this which builds and builds into a frenetic climax. I love when the horns kick in. I love the DIY nature of the video – you just know he asked all his friends to help out. In short, I think I Love Lindblom.

To download all 22 songs in one file click here: